Over the past eight weeks, and in defiance of the ructions on global markets, Okamoto has become one of the hottest names for investors.
Shares in the Tokyo-based company, Japan’s market-dominant producer of condoms, have broken out of a trading band they occupied for more than a decade and risen by more than 120 per cent. Few companies have benefited so spectacularly, it acknowledges, from having ‘Made in Japan’ stamped on products.
“It was totally unexpected,” says Yoshiyuki Okamoto, president of the company and son of the industrialist commemorated in bronze. “The best I can say is that we are looking at the situation calmly.”
The Okamoto share price spike has been driven by China: specifically the 2.8 million Chinese that have visited Japan so far in 2015 and overtaken South Koreans and Taiwanese as the biggest contingent of inbound tourists. Chinese trust in domestic condom brands is low, and foreign brands, of which Okamoto is among the most famous, are faked on an immense scale. Buying the famous Okamoto 0.03 condoms (named for their thickness in millimetres) in Japan, say the Chinese shoppers who throng Tokyo’s drug stores, guarantees they are getting the real thing.